Have you ever wanted to get a custom helmet for your noggin’ but didn’t know where to start? Well, Giro does custom helmets now.
Starting today and every Tuesday, 25 riders will be able to order custom flagship Aether helmets from Giro’s online configurator.
Similar to buying a car, the configurator is robust and pretty darn easy to use. From 15 colors of fades, graphic patterns and two reflective colorways, down to the straps, buckles, and the Roc Loc 5+ Air retention system, just about every facet of a helmet is available to be customized to your heart’s desire. According to Giro, more than 805 million custom combinations are possible so you can be certain that your lid will be a unique one.
Interested? It’s simple: Pick your own design, save it on the configurator and be one of the first 25 people to submit the design every Tuesday starting at 12AM (midnight). Once confirmed, it will take Giro 4-6 weeks to deliver the helmet in custom packaging.
These custom Aethers will start at $400 directly online from Giro and from the five following retailers:
Just a year ago on these actual pages I was lamenting my desire to build the perfect bike for Grinduro and while standing at the lunch stop in Taylorsville, California at this years Grinduro it is clear I was not the only one.
The biggest change at this gravel/adventure/road/everything ride/race/ramble in the Gold Country north of the San Francisco Bay Area, actually north of Chico, was the number of bicycles built specifically for conditions experienced in these them-there hills.
There were “gravel” bicycles from the big players, including Trek, Cannondale, Felt, Open, Specialized and Giant. There were custom builders also weighing in on the genre, including bicycle from Caletti, Rock Lobster, SyCip, Speedvagen, Blue Collar Bicycle and many more.
The wheelbases are long, the tires are big, and I mean really big, brakes, for the most part, are disk and rear cogs are massive.
Last year it was surprising to see someone aboard a properly and purposely built gravel bike, but this year it was more odd to find someone riding a full-suspension mountain bike or a cyclocross bike. They were there, but their herd is getting much thinner and thinner.
And this is where the story really begins.
The procurement of a proper whip.
Since my day job includes riding Pinarellos, it only seemed wise to start there. And I was lucky enough to land a “demo” Pinarello GAN GRS Disk from the lovely crew at Pinarello USA.
After a couple of shakeout rides, I decided I was going to need to swap a couple of items in order to feel more confident in my second attempt at this ridiculous, yet rewarding, shindig.
So I ordered myself the biggest cassette Shimano will let you pair with their Ultegra 2x setup, an 11×34. This would enable me to get a 34-34 as my easiest gear. A crucial situation.
I then set about testing the premise this bicycle was going to make my day in the mountains as pleasant as humanly possible.
This Pinarello rips on the descents, is admirably fast and functional on the road and handled the singletrack with aplomb.
If I had my druthers, I would probably have put on even bigger rubber and more gears, but all things considered, I was superstoked.
Fast forward to the night before Grinduro and I’m sitting in my room at the straight-from-an-80s-movie Ranchito Motel in lovely Quincy, California, sipping a beer, watching Ted stuff his jersey pockets with maple syrup and brushing my teeth at an actual sink.
If you remember correctly, my whippy fast and delightful unprepared companion from last year’s Grinduro, Ted King, and I slept in a tent at the fairgrounds and thoroughly froze our asses off. So in a moment of pure wonder, we decided to get a couple of hotel rooms, with hot running water and a lock on the door. And other than marrying my wife and moving to California, this will stand as one of the greatest decision I have ever made.
In the great battle of tent vs. motel, motel wins hands down. At least in regards to fairground camping.
Anyway, I am pulling together my kit and essentials for the next day, while one of my riding companions in the room next door is dialing in his very own Pinarello gravel bike. He was complaining of a noise in the seatpost, so he was adding a touch of lube and double checking the seat binder bolt.
And then I hear it.
That gut-wrenching sound.
The sound of someone’s day going horribly wrong.
The sound of a broken seatpost bolt reverberating through the innards of a carbon fiber frame.
The sound of Grinduro heartbreak.
Ok, so here’s the thing. I’m not really a nice guy.
But I was born in the midwest and with that comes certain obligations.
And so when push-came-to-shove, I gave up my seatpost bolt so my traveling companion, dare I say, my friend, could ride this event for the very first time.
So having cannibalized my beautiful steed, and in the process ending my chances of glory, off to bed I went.
So instead of kitting up the next morning, I pull on some jeans and spend the next day hopscotching all over the course, cleaning rider’s filthy sunglasses, shouting support and eavesdropping on riders.
There were distinctly three categories of riders on the road.
First, those looking for glory.
Second, those claiming they were just here to enjoy themselves.
Finally, those who were just hoping to survive. With the course being 60 plus miles and almost 8,000 feet of climbing, no matter your fitness it is a legitimately difficult day in the saddle.
As luck (and hard work) would have it my roommate, the rider formerly known as the King of Gravel, Ted King, took first place overall.
This changed our post ride party into a fest and made it a whole lot more fun: the band sounded sweeter, the beer tasted better and the pork rinds were all the more delicious.
The one thing I think we can all count is there will be a Grinduro next, there will be more and more race specific gear and race tactics will play a bigger and bigger part in the outcome of the podium.
And just when I think I have my “which whip?” issues all ironed out, it turns out Ted King, won Grinduro aboard Cannondale’s new mountain bike, The F-Si. I mean come on, what the what? And we’re pretty sure women’s winner, Lindsay Dwyer, was aboard her Trek mountain bike. Let the search and handwringing continue.
The Giro Aether MIPS may have the appearance of the much-loved Synthe MIPS, but the similarity ends there. The new flagship road racing lid is definitely not a 2.0 version of its predecessor. It’s got all the goods under the hood.
The Santa Cruz helmet firm has been one of the early adaptors of integrating MIPS (short for Multi-directional Impact Protection System) liner into its helmet lineup. Since then, having MIPS in a helmet is like having Gore-Tex in a rain jacket. Simply put, MIPS got all the buzz (for obviously good reasons of course).
At the heart of the Aether MIPS is the new version of MIPS called MIPS Spherical. First used in Giro’s Avance ski helmet, the new design ditches the plastic slip-plane liner in favor of a two part progressively-layered Nanobead EPS foam liner where the inner foam behaves like the old plastic liner that rotates in the event of a crash.
It’s very much like a helmet on top of a helmet. Not only does the new integration free up some of the precious headroom but it also eliminates the chance of rubbing one’s melon against a hard piece of plastic due to worn pads. MIPS Spherical seamlessly integrates the core function of MIPS to reduce rotational energy. Without the plastic “net,” the Aether is said to be significantly more comfortable and better ventilated.
With that, Giro went further in refining the helmet with a slew of other innovations. The outer EPS liner is covered by a six-piece polycarbonate shell between the deep venting channels where it forces air over the scalp for the maximum cooling effect. For better safety, the Aether is supplemented with a translucent shatter-resistant arch across the top called AURA, short for Aerodynamic Ultimate Reinforcing Arch. Speaking of aerodynamics, Giro’s own wind tunnel testing shows it’s a decent performer in that regard as well.
No helmet is complete without a retention system in the rear. Giro paired the Aether with a Roc Loc 5+ Air featuring independent left/right cradle adjustment, three step height adjustment and of course, the iconic fit dial adjuster.
But wait, there’s more. The Aether, like many of the top of the line helmets these days, has an integrated docking port for sunglasses and anti-microbial padding throughout. As a final touch, the Giro logos on both sides are laser-cut and pressed in to create a 3D look. A medium CE certified Aether MIPS is said to be 250 grams. We will be getting a test unit so stay tuned for our in depth review soon.
The Aether will be available starting August 1st for $325/€299/£260/AU$475 in 3 sizes, with 9 different colors including three limited editions.
You heard the fun. You’ve seen the gnar, the fun, the party.
The hype is real and Grinduro, a combination of gravel road race and mountain bike enduro, is coming back for 2018!
Two venues will be available: July 14 at the Isle of Arran in Scotland and on September 29 at Grinduro’s birthplace Quincy, California.
Both venues will follow similar formats featuring live music, a handmade bicycle and art show, camping, plus of course, a mixed terrain course with a bit of pavement, gravel, and dirt combined in one giant loop featuring four timed segments (five to seven minutes each) for the race.
It’s much more than a race, though. It’s the Super Bowl of bike parties or perhaps even the bike-specific version of Burningman.
Registration will open at www.grinduro.com at 9am PST on January 2, 2018 for Grinduro Scotland and at 8pm PST on April 22, 2018 for Grinduro Quincy. Be warned, Grinduro Scotland sold out in 12 hours last year so mark your calendars!
And thus theoretically I should have known what I was getting myself into.
The thing is I am a black or gray kind of guy. It was a pretty radical move for me a couple of years ago when I started wearing white cycling shoes. But as sweet looking as a pair of clean white cycling shoes may be, it is a losing battle from the very second you step out the door.
So I decided maybe it’s time to change it up a bit. Hence the fiery red Giro Prolight Techlace.
They’re as red as the Louboutin bottoms that seem to be roaming all over San Francisco these days. I don’t know how comfortable Louboutins are, nor will I ever have the aspiration to give them a shot. What I do know is that after riding with the Prolight Techlaces since July, they are a pretty unique pair of shoes and I now embrace the color red.
Coming off a pair of the Empire SLX which I’ve grown to love, the transition into the flagship Prolight Techlace was an easy one. The shoe shape and the adjustable SuperNatural insoles felt pretty much identical.
What was immediately noticeable was how light they were. My pair touched the scale at 311 grams for a size 43. The weight reduction was noticeable whenever I switched shoes, thanks in part to the new Textreme carbon outsoles with non-adjustable titanium cleat mounts which amount to being 22% lighter than the already feathery Easton EC90SLX2 plate.
The upper material, a monofilament mesh with welded Tejin TPU exoskeleton, is an interesting one. It sounds like a really badass engineering exercise reserve but it’s very breathable – perfect for those hot summer days. You might want to add thicker socks or shoe covers for fall/winter riding though.
Further, the upper is also more pliable than any other cycling shoes that I’ve tried. While I enjoyed the way they hug my feet, I sort of miss having that extra structural support from uppers made with other thicker material. As fragile as those mesh uppers may seem, they held up surprisingly well. The heel cup, while not as rigid as some, was slip-free and comfortable.
And then there is the Techlace closure system. I was skeptical about the hook-and-loop that just seemed a little too thin and slip-prone, but they never budged during the past four months. I love being able to adjust them on the fly and also have the benefit of shoelaces. That said, shoes with traditional laces and Boas will give a tighter, locked down feeling that some prefer.
So is being the lightest and most ventilated worth the $399.99 price tag? I love wearing mine and the fit happened to work out for me. That said, the Prolight Techlaces are definitely not your typical kicks. They felt like specialist racing shoes targeting a specific audience like the Mavic Ultimate Tri for triathlons or the Bont Crono for time trials. As a flagship above the Empire SLX, the Prolight felt a tad like how the iPhone X is nice to have while the iPhone 8 will do just about everything in the same capacity with a lower price tag.
If you’re looking for the absolute lightest and most ventilated shoes for those hot days on the mountain, though, the Prolight Techlaces may just be the kicks for you.
By the way, the Prolight Techlaces are still cheaper than those Louboutins.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any lighter, Giro drops their new Prolight Techlace.
I first saw these prototype 150 gram super shoe at InterBike back in September and they were so freakishly light I honestly thought they were too good to be true. It sounded like a concept car that was more of an engineering exercise, never reaching the public. I was wrong.
At 150 grams per shoe, the new Prolight Techlace is about 25 grams lighter than the already feathery Empire SLX lace ups. And Giro was able to pull it off with some pretty unique engineering features.
Instead of the Easton EC90 SLX2 high-modulus carbon plates found in previous flagship models, the new outsole employs TeXtreme spread tow carbon fiber manufactured by Sweden’s Oxeons that uses flat tape versus the conventional yarn-shaped fibers. With such configuration, less resin is needed without losing any stiffness. The new TeXtreme outsole is said to be 22% lighter.
Moving upward, a custom monofilament fiber mesh is used as its upper. For better structure and increased durability, a thermoplastic polyurethane film by Japanese chemical giant Teijin is then strategically welded over the mesh to act as an exoskeleton, hence the seemingly two-tone looking upper.
For fasteners, the Prolight replaces the sole Boa dial found on the Factors and went with three Techlaces incorporating the comfort of shoelaces with the ease and on-the-fly adjustability of a conventional strap. The tried and trued SuperNatural adjustable insole remains, so it should have a similar fit to existing Giro shoe users.
The Prolight Techlace is available now for $400 in red, white and black. Sure, it’s a lot of dough for a pair of kicks, but these might just fit the bill if you’re looking for the absolute lightest without going full-on custom and they’re still cheaper than a pair of Yeezy Boost 350s.
I normally associate the end of Le Tour the unofficial end of summer: When I was in school, the end of the Tour meant it was time to start thinking about the mandatory quarter/semester textbook ripoffs, and when I graduated from j-school the end of the tour meant, well, shit there’s no more cycling on TV for a while, perhaps I should work and bike more.
But one consistent summer activity I remember well is gear shopping. It’s a pretty cute idea to have a Tour De France-themed daily sale, to get all your year’s worth of Scratch on stage one and wrap it up with buying the 11-23 Dura-Ace cassette on the final day at Champs-Élysée.
So here are a few products we’ve been pretty smitten with lately. They are the few I won’t regret buying or recommending to my friends. You are my friend too, after all.
Kitsbow Geysers’ Jersey
We’ve been a fan of Kitsbow‘s offering for a while and the Petaluma company’s first foray in road-specific apparel did not disappoint. Clean, understated lines and it’s quickly becoming a favorite go-to for those long, all-day adventures. The Geysers’ are made of a 43% Merino and 57% Polyester blend so they’re slightly thicker and more durable (more on that in a sec) than your average typical spandex jerseys, yet they still breathe unbelievably well.
The fit was spot on. Not too tight and doesn’t like you’re letting it all hang out. Longer sleeves are also a welcomed addition. Kitsbow deserves a big high-five for the Geysers’ well-executed pocket arrangements. Besides the three standard rear pockets, there’s also a chest pocket for small items (perfect for credit cards), a water-resistant pocket in the back (for your phone), and there’s even a pump sleeve inside the center rear pocket, that I use to store sticks of CLIF Bloks.
I was in a pretty good crash while wearing one at the PressCamp MTB ride in Park City. I went over the bar and dented my helmet but the Geysers’ remained in one piece. Not what I expected from wearing a road jersey on a full-on mtb ride. Didn’t rip, didn’t break. I am now a fan. Extra credit: Kitsbow even included a microfiber cloth in the chest pocket for your phone/computer/glasses. It’s all in the details.
King Cage Titanium Water Bottle Cage
I’ve had my run with water bottle cages and the one that I keep going back to is the King titanium cage. It’s a classy-looking, light as a feather (28g, thank you titanium) cage individually made from a one-man shop out of Durango, Colorado that just keeps working. It’s the only cage that I’ve used in which I haven’t lost a bottle with. Unlike carbon fiber cages, the bottle retention is actually adjustable so it’ll hold even that odd-sized bottle from your last grand fondo. If $60 is too steep of a price tag, King also makes an identical, albeit heavier version out of stainless steel that works just as well for $18.
Ahh, muscle and joint sores. With a raging one-year-old at home and touting all the cameras for work (and my bike), my dominant shoulder hasn’t really been the same. I’ve tried plenty of over-the-counter rubs for relief in the past with decent results but TUFRELIEF is my current favorite. It’s non-toxic, non-greasy, made in the U.S. with no banned substances and odorless: I can now rub it all over myself and go to work (or any coffee shop) without smelling like I just got out of a medicinal hotbox.
Giordana EXO compression knicker
You read that right, there’s a knicker for a summer gear product review. I was never much of a knicker type of guy to begin with, but Giordana’s EXO compression knicker was impressive to say the least. Unlike most knickers on the market, the EXO is actually designed for warm weather riding and extends further down the knee for better zone compression by integrating eight (!) different types of fabrics throughout. It’s perfect for those morning rides around San Francisco where it doesn’t get either super warm or super cold. Giordano’s variable thickness Cirro OF chamois is also worth mentioning because it fits just right and is oh so comfortable. Heck, the proprietary chamois even has memory foam and aloe vera infused right into it.
Giro Empire SLX
There’s been plenty of reviews in print and on the ‘net about this shoe because of the shoelaces so I’ll just go straight to the point: Don’t hate until you’ve tried it (I know there are still many of you out there). The Empire SLX is freakishly light and comfortable. The Easton EC90 SLX carbon sole is stiff but Giro still managed to keep it so thin that I never felt disconnected from the pedals as if I was riding with a pair of Jimmy Choo Portia 120s. And the shoelaces? I was skeptical about them initially but I am now a fan.
ITW Tac Link: Not exactly a cycling specific product but all you carabiner-wearing people will rejoice at the fact that you can use this without feeling like you’ve just connected yourself to your keys by the ways of a boat anchor. Just don’t go climbing with this one.
Kuwahara Hirame pump head
Similar to the KCNC pump head Jim reviewed earlier this year but this has been one of those tools I am super happy with. My teammates were a bit confused with this whole solid piece of brass at a team camp a few years back, but honestly I haven’t had one of those pump heads flying off the valve incidents since I got this, and it’ll even clamp on the slipperiest tubular valves with authority like no other
Knog Binder MOB Kid Grid
Let’s just say this little guy’s totally lit. Silicone mounting brackets are simple to use and won’t mar, or slip off your fancy carbon seatpost. Five modes from its grid of 16 (!) LEDs to choose from, low battery indicator and even an integrated USB charging plug. Oh, and it’s waterproof. With all those features, you’d think it would be as big as a phablet but no, this is one well designed and executed taillight.
Jagwire Elite Link shift/brake kit
Okay, it’ll take more time to setup than traditional cable kits but the tradeoff is well worth the extra time and money spent. Concept wise it’s similar to Nokon, Alligator, and Power Cordz Swift by connection small aluminum links over a slick Teflon liner to create a lightweight and compressionless system that’ll play nicely with tight bends. I’ve been running both the brake and shift kit on a Dura Ace 9000 group for about a year and am happy to say it’s so durable, accurate, smooth and crisp that I don’t ever want to go back to regular cables. Pro tip: The housing squeals every once in a while but a small dab of Tri-Flow between the problematic links will take care of it.
Bike kit just gets nicer and nicer. We’ve never ridden in such comfort, and style. The big brands are doing good work, but a lot of the new development is also thanks to the smaller brands—companies that might only produce a handful of items.
What follow are five pieces of kit we’ve been riding, and loving, day in and day out, be it on our weekend riders or our commute to work:
I finally got shoe game back on track in a sweet, styling way. If you told me a couple of years ago, I would be lusting after a pair of lace up bicycle shoes, and in a particular a pair of lace up mountain bike shoes, I would have called you crazy. And even after seeing Taylor Phinney hammering his bike in a pair of metallic silver shoes with bright green laces, I still couldn’t quite get my excitement on. It wasn’t until I almost had my hands, nay feet, on a pair of the limited edition camo Giro Empires when the hook was sunk.
And now I finally got my hands on a pair of the new VR90s I am officially smitten with laces. There have been plenty of reviews and online chatter about the benefits of the lace system. If they are to be believed you can get a overall better fit without hotspots, over a buckle system. I have never suffered from hotspots, so I can’t speak to this claim. But like almost all the Giro shoes I have worn over the last few years they make some of the most comfortable riding shoes, right out of box, being sold today. Sure, lacing up takes a little more time and adjusting on the fly is nearly impossible, but damn if I don’t look pimp and feel surprisingly cozy.
I want one of everything Cadence Collection makes. I can’t say that about very many companies, but it is completely true about Cadence. I’m not sure how they do it, but they make some of the most distinctive, stylish and comfortable kit being put out by any of the small players. They seem to be able to straddle the line between distinctive and poppin’ without ever rolling over into the garish or distasteful.
I’ve been on a couple of big fondos in the last couple of months and I almost always find myself wanting to yell CADENCE when I spot someone in their kit. Which must mean they are doing something right. We’re digging the Tempo Light in particular.
This has been the rainiest spring I can remember here in New Mexico. Every afternoon it clouds up, the winds start whipping and then it dumps. The weather is great for the local aquifer since we’re in a drought, but it’s a pain in the ass to ride home through. My saving grace has been the 7mesh Revelation Jacket.
The thing is made from Gore-Tex Pro, which you don’t see for bike jackets, and it’s like wearing a force field. I stay bone dry, plus it cuts the wind and cold. The design is also spot on, with a perfect cut for the bike, and side vents that let me reach in and access my jersey pockets. The cost is WAY up there—nearly five bills—but think of it like an investment. You should have this jacket for decades to come.
People like to talk about one-quiver bikes, and one-quiver skis—well, the Haskell is the one-quiver short. They’re great for riding your mountain or commuter bike with a slim cut but a huge range of motion.
They’re also great for picnics, playgrounds with the kids, soccer, watching television, drinking beer or anything else you can think of. I literally live in these shorts when the weather’s warm. All that movement comes from a nylon/spandex mix that’s wicked stretchy but also plenty tough. If you take a spill in the hills the shorts will be fine. And if you get caught in the rain a DWR finish means you won’t look like a wet dog.
This shirt is not a piece of bike kit. But whatevs. It’s cool, and I use it on my bike anyway. Just last week I had it on while I road through the foggy streets of San Francisco and it kept me warm but breathed just enough so I didn’t sweat out when I had to climb a couple hills. Made by the smart folks over at Topo, it stands out just enough from the normal flannel and is plenty nice to wear into work, or the bar, or to your inlaw’s house for dinner.